Sunday 13 August 2023, 06:00

Jacewicz family impacting the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in more ways than one

  • Hilda Jacewicz is a member of the volunteer transport team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™

  • Her daughter, Kate Jacewicz, is one of Australia’s most decorated referees

  • Earlier in the tournament, Hilda proudly watched her daughter officiate France v Brazil at Brisbane Stadium

The FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ has seen approximately 5,000 volunteers contribute to the tournament so far, with each member of the volunteer workforce having their own unique story. 95% of volunteers are locals who are creating memories and stories in their hometowns, while the remaining 5% of volunteers are from sixty-eight different countries across all six confederations: ensuring an eclectic mix of experience, viewpoints, and stories. Perhaps though, no-one will have a story quite as distinct as Hilda Jacewicz. Hilda, a member of the volunteer transport team, is the mother of FIFA Women’s World Cup™ referee, Kate Jacewicz.

The parents of Australian referee Kate Jacewicz watch her in action

Hilda has been volunteering for over 20 years, mostly at Kate’s junior club, Mudgeeraba SC, and knew she would sign-up as a volunteer for the 2023 tournament as soon as Australia was announced as a host country. Having travelled to France 2019™ to watch her daughter officiate, Hilda was inspired by the local volunteers and organisers at that tournament and was determined to expand her volunteering to a FIFA Women’s World Cup™ if ever given the opportunity. Her role in the transport team sees her based out of the Novotel in Brisbane where she provides rides to players, referees, coaches, staff, officials, and VIPs when they need to get to airports, stadiums, and training venues. It was not a role Hilda had done before but has turned into one that she has loved. “In my past volunteering roles my forte has been in administration and registrations, but here I was assigned to the transport team, and it’s worked out really well. Our team is very friendly and the people we’ve taken around Brisbane have all been nice people to talk to,” said Hilda.

Match Officials at the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Group F match between France and Brazil at Brisbane Stadium

“Even if Kate wasn't in the tournament I still would have signed-up. I love volunteering and the FIFA Women’s World Cup was so exciting in France that I thought it would be great to be part of it in Australia. “I just hoped that Kate would get picked to be here, which now makes it doubly exciting as she worked extremely hard to be selected. Hopefully, she is just as proud as I am that we’re both at this tournament supporting the football community.” Kate is one of Australia’s – and Asia’s – most decorated referees. She is the first woman to referee an A-League Men’s match, refereed nine out of the first 11 A-League Women’s grand finals, was the referee for the final of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2016™, and has been appointed to the knockout rounds of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in both 2019 and 2023.

Captains Wendie Renard of France and Rafaelle of Brazil attend the coin toss prior to the France and Brazil match at Brisbane Stadium

Hilda’s assignment to the transport team meant that, by pure good fortune, Hilda was able to share a special experience with her daughter when Kate was appointed to the France v Brazil match in Brisbane. Not only was Kate staying at the hotel that Hilda volunteers at, allowing them to catch-up and spend time together, Hilda was able to attend France v Brazil to watch Kate referee. “It's amazing how things worked out. It so happened that I wasn’t working on game day, so I was able to go to the airport with Kate and share breakfast with her in the hotel that morning,” said Hilda. “I am immensely proud of my daughter: she's worked extremely hard to get where she wants to be. She said to us as a teenager: I'm going to the World Cup and when I do, will you promise to come? When she got picked to go to France in 2019, we honoured that promise.

“We were very excited to be able to watch her referee in this tournament. Watching her in France was amazing as that was her first FIFA Women’s World Cup but this was special, having her in Brisbane and not having to go all over the country to get to her game. It was perfect.”

Volunteers Pose with FWWC23 Trophy - FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023

Hilda’s story may be unique, but she still considers herself just a small part of an integral team of volunteers. “Volunteers make it happen. If you don't have the volunteers to support the tournament, you're not going to get a successful World Cup,” said Hilda. “At this level it would be impossible for FIFA to provide the services they do without the volunteers, but just as importantly, volunteers also showcase the people of Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand to the rest of the world. I love being part of it and I know all the volunteers at the transport team are enjoying it and loving meeting so many different people from different countries.”